A pizza delivery boy named Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is kidnapped by a crazy loser named Dwayne (Danny McBride) and his milder-mannered sidekick Travis (Nick Swardson). Why? Because Dwayne wants Nick to rob a bank and pick up a hundred thousand dollars so that he can hire a hitman to murder his own father.
Now Travis might be milder mannered but he is good with bombs. So they rig Nick up with a bobby-trapped bomb vest that will blow up in ten hours unless he gets them their money.
Nick isn’t exactly a winner himself. He’s stuck in a dead-end job, he is conflicted about his feelings towards Kate (Dilshad Vadsaria) who also happens to be the identical twin sister of Chet (Aziz Ansari), Nick’s best friend. One thing leads to another, Chet and Nick get into a fight and swear never to speak to each other again.
Of course all of this happens before Nick wakes up with a bomb strapped to his chest. When it appears that there might be Nick chunks flying all over the place in a few hours Chet becomes a reluctant recruit in Nick’s efforts to secure the money and lift the death sentence.
I liked director Ruben Fleischer’s previous film Zombieland a lot, even though I am not a big fan of the genre. So I was looking forward to this one – the concept sounded cool, the trailer was funny and the director was teaming up with his Zombieland star Jesse Eisenberg once again. How bad could it be?
Well for starters, this is one unfunny movie. Everybody says lines that must have read funny on paper (I think, I haven’t read the script) but they did not sound funny. Not Danny McBride’s belligerent hillbilly-shtick (that I was never a fan of), not Aziz Ansari’s hyperactive, high-pitched Indian American shtick (that he employs to such good use on his stand-up gigs) and definitely not Jesse Eisenberg’s poker-faced I’m-no-longer-playing-Mark-Zuckerberg-but-I’m-still-monotonic performance.
It also doesn’t help that Ansari struggles to maintain a straight face while delivering his lines.
Or that they snuck a Facebook joke in there.
In the absence of immediately funny lines or sequences we quickly become aware that there is more conflict within the two opposing duos than there is between them. Nick and Chet have a mildly cordial relationship that quickly disintegrates into name-calling, rabbit-punching, and scuffling on the floor within the first ten minutes of the film. Dwayne and Travis have an abusive-yet-symbiotic relationship that weirdly mirrors Dwayne’s relationship with his own father. Which is cool and all but there is actually not enough going on between Dwayne and Nick. Mostly because they encounter each other in person only twice in the movie and since both of them behave like idiots there is no real character to root for.
The idea of an innocent man being forced to rob a bank because he has a bomb strapped to his chest is an intriguing one. Too bad that the resulting motion picture doesn’t do the clever idea any real justice.